Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A registry for DWI offenders?

Another day, yet another brain dead idea of how to place yet another stigma on motorists convicted of driving while intoxicated. Scott Greenfield, over at Simple Justice, pointed out that at least one state legislator in the state of Maine is contemplating a registry of DWI offenders.

Rich Sebra, a Republican state representative from Naples, Maine, said he's had enough of drunk drivers and he wants their neighbors and everyone else to know what bad people they are. He wants to hit those convicted of driving while intoxicated with an additional $25 surcharge to pay the cost of constructing the site. He wants photos and addresses posted on the website so people can check their neighborhoods to see which neighbors should be avoided like the plague and made to place scarlet D's on their chests.

What is it with politicians and their registries? If Mr. Sebra is so upset that motorists are being jailed or having their licenses suspended upon a DWI conviction, propose legislation to make the penalties harsher. If he thinks that DWI is a more heinous crime that murder, then propose legislation to classify it as a more serious crime.

At least one state legislator doesn't care for Mr. Sebra's idea:

Rep. Gary Plummer, R-Windham, the co-chairman of the panel, said he has a problem with any proposed websites to publicize a person’s conviction of any offense except the sex offender registry. 
“We have looked at several other requests, whether it is animal abusers or arsonists,” he said. “Every site that we create like that is very expensive. We don’t have the money.” 
Plummer also doubted whether such a website would have a deterrent effect. He said those that drink and drive really don’t think about what will happen to them when they get caught even though fines and long license suspensions have been added to the penalties for drunken driving over the years.

Once a person has entered their plea, or been convicted, and served their sentence, that person has paid their debt to society. Michael Vick pled guilty and went to federal prison. He served his time and was released. He carries the stigma of being a felon - but that's no reason he shouldn't be permitted to earn a living.

When you put up a registry or a list or whatever Mr. Sebra wants to call it, you are making it that much harder for someone who's already paid his debt to get a job or an apartment or whatever.

Sebra's List is just another example of politicians looking to the next election cycle and proposing bad legislation without a care in the world as to how it might affect someone.

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